League of Women Voters of Georgia’s Voter Guide

My platform was included in the League of Women Voters of Georgia’s Voter Guide, which can be found here. You can compare my platform with other candidates in HD80. I’ve also included my answers below, for easy reading.

What experience do you bring to the job and what is your motivation to serve the people of Georgia?

HD80 (Brookhaven, Chamblee, Sandy Springs) is an amazing place, and I want to preserve our quality of life while expanding and improving it throughout Georgia. The more I’ve gotten involved in politics (city, county, state, party), the more I’ve seen how well-intentioned laws have become obstacles to sustainable, positive solutions. I’ve studied law, political science, and philosophy for almost three decades now, and my skills and experience in legal and legislative analysis and advocacy can make our Georgia Code better serve the people of Georgia who want solutions in education, healthcare, transportation, business, and public safety.

I read all the legislation and tell you about the impact so you can make the decisions – that’s what being a representative is all about.

– In 2014, I founded and chaired the defeat (60-40%) of the Redevelopment Powers Law, which would have expanded debt, eminent domain, and overdevelopment by removing local control over bond issuance. Active on zoning and planning. – Active at GA legislature on public safety & development issues, preventing dangers like legalizing no-knock search warrants – President of Brookhaven Civilian Police Academy class – Delegate to Republican National Convention in 2012 – Served on multiple GAGOP committees at precinct, county, and state levels – President of DeKalb Young Republicans & N. DeKalb Republican Women – North Atlanta Rotary & Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce – Emory U. & Univ. of Virginia Law graduate

If elected, what would be your top three priorities and how would you work to achieve results?

1) Restore local control by reforming the state law governing city and county political processes. Too many important decisions are being made in “executive session,” deliberately concealed from voters and taxpayers – if public money is involved, the public should be involved too. State law now heavily incentivizes all development to go through “development authorities” (over 1100 of these private corporations operate with public credit throughout the state, many of them paying politicians to serve as executive directors) – instead of convincing a bank to finance a project, developers must only convince politicians, which is both easier and has more potential for corruption. This distorted process produces infrastructure overload, traffic congestion, and massive public debt, as well as developments that don’t suit the needs of communities.

2) Protect public safety by reorienting justice reform – we don’t need lighter sentences for violent and property crimes, we need to focus law enforcement efforts on effectively prosecuting those who force harm on others. One in 13 Georgians is under state supervision, in part because we are the only state to treat minor traffic offenses as criminal misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail. This has driven a private probation industry that impoverishes the most vulnerable while keeping us no safer.

3) Stop growing GA’s budget by over $1 billion/year while education (>50% of that budget) gets worse and debt service (>5%) rises.

At least five rural hospitals have closed their doors since 2013 and Georgia has the worst maternal mortality rate in the nation, with 35 maternal deaths for every 10,000 live births. How would you address the lack of healthcare access in rural areas?

As a public defender who works closely with the rural poor throughout the state, as well as with those in need of healthcare access in metro Atlanta, I understand that this is a critical legislative priority. We must reform the certificate of need process that limits new hospitals from opening unless they can obtain the approval of their competitors. We must allow physicians assistants and nurse practitioners to perform basic care, and remove barriers to entry for low-cost clinics. We must pressure the federal government to reform the disgraceful Veterans Administration hospitals so that men and women who have served our country have access to quality care. We must reform the county government processes that have led to so many bonds being issued for rural hospitals that have left communities in debt with little or nothing to show for it. Doctors and patients should be making decisions as close to each other and to the true costs of the procedures as possible, rather than trying to filter all care through an expensive and inefficient state bureaucracy.

Foreign-born Georgians own 31% of the businesses in our state. Legal Permanent Residents and naturalized citizens contribute approximately 1.8 billion dollars in state and local taxes each year. How will you help ensure Georgia is a welcoming place for foreign born entrepreneurs and their families?

I will help ensure Georgia is a welcoming place for ALL entrepreneurs and their families by reducing the barriers to entry, unnecessary regulations, complicated tax schemes, and other burdens that the state has been loading onto small and mid-size businesses. Entrepreneurs don’t thrive when politicians are making all the decisions and picking winners and losers to receive state financing – entrepreneurs thrive in robust free markets where they are free to innovate and serve unique needs that others may not have seen yet.

The portions of Buford Highway in Brookhaven and Chamblee represent tremendous accomplishments and opportunities for foreign-born entrepreneurs, and I have consistently supported the rights of businesses to operate peacefully and lawfully, free from politically-motivated power grabs by local government. We must be wary of “economic development” schemes that enrich lawyers, bureaucrats, and others with financial and political connections at the expense of the hardworking businessmen and women who are actually taking the risks and putting in the work to bring diverse restaurants, shops, and services to the people of Georgia. We don’t need more complicated tax credit programs that benefit large corporations with lobbyists and teams of lawyers, we need to reduce the tax burden on Georgians who are putting so much on the line to make their businesses successful.

The current minimum wage in Georgia is $7.25 an hour. A person working 40 hours makes $290 a week, approximately $1160 a month. Do you support raising the minimum wage, why or why not?

No. Raising the minimum wage has a very negative effect on employment for unskilled or low-skilled workers, as shown by the California unions applying for exemptions from their new minimum wage laws and the mass layoffs at universities. So much of this debate is driven by the idea that poor people are working for giant corporations who can easily afford the increase – but sustainable job creation for our state occurs at a much smaller level, where a business owner seeks to hire a few people. Let employers and employees choose the rate at which they contract with each other, rather than assuming that government bureaucrats can do a better job of managing it. The tax money that goes to fund these regulators and bureaucrats could go a long way to tax relief for small businesses that would allow them to hire and pay more.

To help the poor, we must address the massive revenue generating government programs that are disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable, not make it more difficult for employers to hire. I didn’t always believe this, but once I became a public defender and started working closely with very poor families on a daily basis, I learned what the true obstacles to success are – and often, those are well-intentioned government programs.